Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Humor
Summary: While on business in Southern California, our boys take a short trip into that famous mouse-themed amusement park.
Much thanks to Robyn who pushed me into writing this. And who gave me all sorts of ideas. ~grin~
Author's Note: This was written *way* before we knew about Steven Ellison (His Brother's Keeper) or William Ellison (Remembrance), so any mention, though non-specific, of Jim's family is probably now non-canon.
And now the fic that started it all, my fanfic writing, that is .... <g>
Blair grabbed for the dashboard again as the truck whipped around a corner, its tires squealing on the pavement. He glanced over at Jim but said nothing, not wanting to disturb his concentration on the speeding car several lengths ahead of them.
The day had started out quiet enough. Blair had to teach a class at the University that morning, and Jim had a mound of paperwork to catch up on. At noon, Jim had picked Blair up, then they headed out to grab some lunch at a Cuban restaurant before going back to the station.
On the way back out to the truck after lunch, Jim had heard sirens from several streets over and then his cellphone rang. It had been Simon, saying something about a high-speed chase, which went with the sirens Jim had heard. Simon had further explained that a uniformed officer had pulled a man over for speeding and realized that he looked familiar. The officer had asked the driver to step out of the car. He had started to comply, but then instead slammed the door open, knocking the officer onto the street, and then had sped off again.
Upon calling in the description, it was discovered that the man pulled over was a man by the name of Durant, wanted in Los Angeles for a string of murders. Jim had slapped on the siren, and they had roared out of the parking lot, barely giving Blair enough time to buckle his seatbelt and hold on.
I really hate these car chases sometimes. At a particularly sharp turn, a muffled exclamation slipped out of his mouth.
Not taking his eyes off the road, Jim asked, "You all right, Chief?"
Blair waved a hand, trying not to think about how dangerous this was. "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine."
Nodding once, Jim careened around yet another corner and pulled the truck to an abrupt stop. They had Durant's car pinned in an alley between Jim's truck and several police cars at the other end. An officer at the other end pulled out a bullhorn. "Step out of the car and keep your hands where we can see them."
Durant couldn't be seen through the tinted windows and there was nothing to suggest that he was planning to get out of the car. Jim focused in on Durant's car, cutting through the tinting, then turning up his hearing as well. He saw Durant's head and saw him moving, though his hands were beneath his range of sight. Then he heard the sound of a gun cocking. Pulling his gun from its holster, he said to Blair, "He's got a gun. Stay here."
Blair nodded, shrinking down in the seat. "You got it."
Jim exited the truck quickly, staying low as he approached Durant's car, keeping on his blind side, using a few dumpsters for cover. His hearing was still turned up, and he flinched when the officer with the bullhorn repeated his order to get out of the car. Ignoring the echoes floating around in his head, he continued on toward the car, gun at the ready.
Suddenly the door burst open and Durant jumped out. Jim ducked back behind the dumpster as Durant fired several shots at him. Then Durant turned and began to fire at the officers at the other end of the street. Jim took advantage and rushed out, tackling Durant against the car. Durant was strong and fought back. Both guns went flying, Durant's over the hood of his car and Jim's toward the truck. Durant managed to get one arm free of Jim's grip and hit Jim hard, making Jim inadvertently loosen his grip on Durant, who pushed free and ran in the direction of Jim's truck.
Inside the truck cab, Blair had watched Jim approach the car and had ducked when bullets started flying. He had looked back up when the bullets stopped and saw Jim and Durant struggling against Durant's car. When Jim took the hit to his jaw and Durant pulled away, Blair realized that Durant was on the verge of escaping. Oh, man, can't let that happen.
He released the seatbelt and jumped over to the driver's side of the truck which Durant was running towards even as Blair was grabbing the handle of the door. He used the same trick Durant had used to escape from the patrolman earlier and slammed the door open into Durant as he ran by. Durant bounced off the door and fell backwards onto the ground with a thud.
Blair jumped out of the car and saw Jim's gun lying next to the tire. Hesitating only momentarily, Blair picked it up and held it on Durant who was already rising to his feet. "Don't move."
A mocking smile on his face, Durant took a step toward Blair who swallowed but stood his ground firmly. Jim was suddenly behind Durant, grabbing both of his arms. "Why don't you just do what the man said, hm?"
Jim turned Durant around and handed him to the other officers, who cuffed and hauled him toward the waiting squad car as they read him his rights. Jim then walked over to Blair who held out the gun to him. "Here, take this thing before I manage to shoot myself with it."
Jim chuckled, but took the gun and put the safety back on before reholstering it. He clapped Blair on the shoulder. "Good job, Chief. Nice move with the door."
Bouncing slightly from the adrenaline spike, Blair nodded absently. "Yeah. We done here?"
Jim pushed him toward the other side of the truck. "Yep. Let's go. Hopefully Simon will have something for us to do besides paperwork when we get to the station."
"You want me to do what?!?"
Jim's voice rose a few more decibels as he continued. "Simon, c'mon, there's gotta be someone else who can do this."
Seated at the conference table, Blair concentrated on examining and tracing the woodgrain with one finger as Jim argued with the captain.
Behind his desk, Simon pulled the cigar, lit for once, out of his mouth to reply. "Look, Jim, they're concerned that Durant might get away from anyone else. They've heard about your work and your record. They want you to bring him down there personally."
Jim grumbled and muttered to himself, pacing over to the window to look down at the street.
Simon smiled and leaned back in his chair, throwing a quick glance at Blair, who was seemingly ignoring the whole conversation. "Besides, Sandburg's been on my case for weeks telling me you need a vacation."
Blair looked up, suddenly feeling Jim's piercing gaze on him as he swiveled to face him. Jim's voice was low. "Oh, he has, has he?"
Squirming slightly, but refusing to back down, Blair pushed back his hair. "Yeah, well, Jim, you have been a little .... stressed lately. I just thought maybe you needed a break or something."
Jim didn't say anything, just turned back to Simon. "And just what am I supposed to do in Los Angeles in July, Simon? Huh?"
Simon chuckled, chomping down on his cigar again. "How would I know? Go to Disneyland or something."
Blair's face lit up. "Hey, cool. How 'bout it, Jim?"
Jim held up his hand, negating that thought immediately. "No way, Chief. Thousands of screaming kids is not my idea of a good time. Let's just get this over with and get back to real work."
As he stood, Blair rolled his eyes. "You are like no fun, man."
Jim smiled tolerantly, giving Blair a push out the door. "Don't recall claiming that I was."
Jim sighed as he stood behind Blair in line. I must be losing it. Why did I let this kid haul me here? The "kid" in question was bouncing up and down on his toes impatiently, wide-eyed and grinning in excitement. His mind trickled back to the day before ....
They had flown from Cascade to Los Angeles that same afternoon and dropped Durant at the main LAPD office. After filling out some paperwork, they'd found a hotel and then went out to supper. Blair had asked Jim if they could stay a few days so he could visit a few of the research libraries in the area. Jim had agreed and scheduled a flight back to Cascade in two days.
Supper finished, they'd headed back to their hotel. Jim had thought Blair had finally given up on the Disneyland argument after Jim's very public and very decisive negative answer in the plane on the way down here. But Blair had brought it up again halfway back to the hotel in the car. And the argument had started again. Blair continued even as they'd parked and entered the hotel room. In retrospect, Jim realized he should have known he was fighting a losing battle ....
"Chief, give it a rest, we're not going to Disneyland, and that's it. Final. The last word. Got it?"
"Jim, c'mon, it'd be fun. The rides are a blast, and that new one is supposed to be like so cool."
Jim turned away from Blair, heading over to the sink in their hotel room. He turned on the water and started to wash his hands, splashing water on his face as well. "We went over this in Cascade and in the airport and in the plane. We are not going. I don't care if there are new rides. I went there more times than I care to remember growing up."
At first there was only silence behind him, and Jim thought Blair had finally given up on the argument. Not hearing any response from his partner, Jim automatically turned up his hearing to make sure Blair was still in the room. That was when he heard the small defeated whisper. "Well, I never got to. And I guess I never will."
That statement and the emotions behind it rocked Jim back a little. But before he could dry his face off and respond, the door to the hotel room opened and shut quickly. He threw the towel on the sink counter, calling out as he strode across the room. "Sandburg ...."
Once outside their first floor room, he caught sight of Blair leaning against their rental car parked several spots down from the room. He paused a moment, gathering his thoughts, then walked over to join him. Blair didn't acknowledge him, just continued to stare at the sunset, facing away from the hotel .... and from Jim.
Finally, Jim laid a hand on Blair's shoulder and said softly, "I didn't know you'd never been to Disneyland, Blair. I just assumed .... well, most kids go there at least once growing up. But then you didn't have the typical childhood. I should know by now not to make assumptions when it comes to you."
Blair shrugged, not looking at him, his voice subdued. "No big deal."
Jim squeezed his shoulder. "It is a big deal, Chief. I'm sorry. If you want to go, we can go."
Blair turned his head to look up at him, uncertainty in his eyes. "Are you sure, Jim? I mean --"
Jim stopped him, smiling. "Yeah, I'm sure."
And now he was here, standing in this horribly long line, accompanied by one very hyper partner and surrounded by screaming kids and harried parents. As he watched the people around him, he found one blonde kid, maybe around seven, staring at him. When Jim's eyes locked onto his, the kid stuck out his tongue and then started to laugh like it was the funniest thing in the world.
Looking up at the sky, Jim sighed again. Help.
Just inside the front gate, Blair stopped, still bouncing on his toes, eyes wide, trying to take in everything at once. Jim stood next to him calmly, squinting at the bright morning sun through his sunglasses. Gonna be a hot one today. Wish I'd brought shorts. Man. Both men were dressed in jeans and button-down short-sleeve shirts, plus Jim had his ever-present baseball cap which he had slapped on this morning and from the looks of things, probably wouldn't take off until much later tonight.
Jim's attention was drawn back to Blair when he started to unfold the park map. "Ooh, man, where to go first? Any preferences, Jim?"
Jim shook his head. "Nope. You're the Guide, remember?"
The small joke passed right over Blair who was too engrossed in the map to notice. Jim laughed to himself inwardly. Zoned-out on the map.
Blair suddenly looked up at him. "What was your favorite ride here when you were a kid, Jim?"
The answer came instantly. "Pirates of the Caribbean."
Blair grinned. "Somehow, that makes sense. Did your parents buy you an eyepatch?"
Jim growled at him. "Don't knock it, Chief."
Eyes widening further if that was possible, Blair choked out, "You mean, they did buy you an eyepatch?!? Oh, man. A sword too?"
Jim hesitated. If I don't tell him everything now, he'll only bug me until I do. Might as well get it over with. Smiling self-consciously, he nodded. "Yeah, a sword, too. Now pick a place, Chief, and let's get going. We're blocking traffic."
Trying not to laugh too hard, Blair turned back to the map. "Yeah, right. A sword, too. Geez, what a picture that brings to mind."
Jim warned, his voice low, but close to laughter and trying not to smile. "Sandburg ...."
Blair folded up the map and looked up at Jim with a straight face. "I say we hit Fantasyland first."
Jim eyed him a long moment, trying to decide if he was serious. Finally he shook his head in resigned disgust. "Fine, Chief, whatever. You have the map, you lead the way. Just try and go in the right direction, okay? I don't want to be looking for you at the Lost and Found."
Blair glared at him indignantly a moment, then paused, eyebrows furrowed in mock concentration. "Now which way was I going again ....?"
Blair laughed. "Just kidding. It's this way."
Jim followed him closely, not wanting to lose him in the growing mass of people. First the monastery, now Disneyland. Why can't the kid pick a normal place to have a vacation, like a good golf course. He mentally shook his head. Because he isn't normal. And knowing him, he'd attract some weirdo to the golf course too. I can see it now -- exploding golf balls. Sheesh. Seeing Blair getting a little too far ahead of him, he picked up his pace a bit. Simon is never going to let me live this down .... maybe I just won't tell him.
When Jim caught up with Blair, he was standing at the end of a long line of people in an Adventureland ride. Jim used his greater height to look above all the heads of the people and saw that they were in the line for the Indiana Jones ride.
He looked down at Blair, voice light. "What happened to Fantasyland, Chief? I thought maybe you wanted to go on the Dumbo ride."
Blair shook his head, unfazed by the comment. "Nah. This looks much more fun."
Jim chuckled. "I should have guessed that this would be the first place you'd head to. Archeology, anthropology, adventure, artifacts ...."
Blair snorted in amusement. "C'mon, man, it's not like I think this is real or something. It's a cool ride, or so I've heard." He fell silent a moment, then Jim began to see a sort of gleam in Blair's eyes.
Uh-oh, I'm about to be lectured to about some obscure ritual or tribe or some such thing that this 'Temple of the Forbidden Eye' reminds him of.
Even as Jim finished with that thought, Blair started talking excitedly, moving his hands as he described a culture in South America that had this temple ....
Jim tried to look pleasantly interested even as he noticed the odd looks his partner was getting from the people around him. Well, at least they'll be entertained while they wait.
An hour later, Blair bounced out of the ride exit, grinning. "That was definitely cool, Jim."
Jim squinted at him, slowly turning back up his hearing. It had been very loud during the ride, the sounds the cars themselves made plus people's voices echoing off the walls and into his oversensitive ears. "Yeah, Chief, cool."
Blair stopped for a moment, looking up at him, concerned. "Are you okay, man? Your ears --"
Jim nodded. "I'm okay. Just didn't get things turned down soon enough. I'll remember now, believe me. What's next?"
Satisfied that his partner was okay, Blair smiled again. "I want to check out the gift shop, and then I want to see when the Tiki Room is open, then we can go over to the Pirates ride."
Before Jim could comment, Blair walked into the Adventureland gift shop. The Tiki Room. Is that thing really still around? Great. An amused smile playing on his lips, Jim shook his head and leaned against a post to watch Blair inside the shop. He's like a little kid. Too bad I don't have a camera. Naomi would probably love this.
Jim straightened, an eyebrow raised, as he saw Blair lift a coiled leather whip from a display. Blair looked up and saw Jim watching him. He gestured to the whip as if to say, "Hey, look, Jim, a whip. Cool!"
Jim just rolled his eyes and finally strode inside the shop, stepping over to Blair. "And, what pray tell, do you plan to do with that, if I let you buy it?"
Blair did his best to look affronted. "What do you mean by 'if you let me'? I know how to use this, you know."
Jim held up a hand. "Don't tell me, you visited some little tribe in some tiny country that no one's heard of and the head chieftain or maybe his daughter taught you how to use a whip."
To Jim's amazement, Blair actually flushed, though it was probably impossible to tell for anyone but a Sentinel. "The daughter, yeah, how'd you know?"
Jim just laughed. "I know you, Chief, that's how I know. Now are you planning to buy that thing or what?"
Blair looked down at the whip in his hands, contemplating it for a long moment, then rehung it. "Nah, maybe later. C'mon, let's check out the Tiki schedule."
Jim waited for Blair to step into the boat before following him. Somehow they had ended up in the front seat of one of the boats for the Pirates ride. Blair sat down but still managed to keep moving at the same time. He placed a hand on Blair's shoulder, pressing him down firmly. "Sit still, Chief. You're rocking the boat."
Blair looked over at him, distracted. "What? Oh, sorry. Okay."
Jim automatically moved over as he felt someone plop down on the other side of him. He turned his head and saw the blonde boy from the line that morning. Jim gave him a little insincere smile as the kid stuck out his tongue again. Jim turned back to his partner with a sigh. Blair just shrugged and went back to scanning everything he could see from their current position.
Eventually, everyone was on the boat, the kid's parents being directly behind Jim. Hopefully they can make him behave. Having to keep track of Blair is difficult enough.
The boat moved away from the dock and started on its trek through the pirate world. Taking off his hat, Jim sat back, preparing to enjoy this and the fond memories it brought back from childhood. He'd heard that the ride had been changed a bit, so he could always amuse himself by trying to figure out what the changes were.
He moved forward again when his police ID and shield in his back pocket made him feel distinctly uncomfortable. Blair had insisted that he leave his gun at the hotel room, locked safely in his suitcase. 'C'mon, Jim, Disneyland is the last place you'd ever need a gun. Leave it.' But he'd refused to leave his shield and had shoved it in the other back pocket before leaving the room. And now, sitting in these hard boat seats, the badge was definitely making its presence known.
He reached back and pulled out the offending leather ID holder, preparing to put it in his front shirt pocket instead. Not the safest place for it, but it'll do for now.
Suddenly the boat descended an incline, startling Jim, who hadn't been paying attention. His ID slipped from his hand and landed with a small thud on the floor in front of him. Instinctively, he placed his foot on the ID to keep it from sliding around any further. A few teenage girls sitting a few rows behind him let out hysterical, mock-terrified, high-pitched screams. His hands went automatically to his ears even as he dialed down the volume.
Blair was having too much fun to notice.
Finally the boat evened out and Jim massaged one ear as he reached for his ID with the other hand. It had fallen open when it hit the floor of the boat, and Jim wiped away the offending dirt smudges before beginning to close it. A tinny little kid voice reached his still recovering ears.
"Hey, mister, is that real?"
Jim turned his head to look down at the little blonde kid next to him. Without smiling, Jim said simply, "Yeah, kid, it's real." He could hear Blair behind him stifling snickers at the aggrieved tone in Jim's voice.
Shoving his ID in his shirt pocket, Jim turned back to level a glare at Blair who just shrugged and smiled. "Sorry?" Jim rolled his eyes, but made no comment. Sandburg is going to owe me big time for this. Maybe I can get out of those tests he's got planned for me next week ....
Putting back on his sunglasses and hat, Jim blinked several times, his eyes quickly adjusting to the bright sunlight as he exited the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Having his hearing dampened during the ride had helped immensely to compensate for the loud music -- and for Blair singing "Yo Ho, Yo Ho" next to him.
Speaking of his partner, where was he? He turned slightly and found him looking at some pirate-themed souvenirs next to the exit. Man, these shops are placed so strategically. Purposely, of course. He stepped over and tugged gently at Blair's ponytail. "Chief, you don't need any of that stuff."
Blair straightened and looked up at him, waggling his eyebrows. "You never know."
Jim just shook his head. "C'mon, what next? Haunted Mansion, I would assume?"
Blair nodded. "Yeah."
Jim opened his mouth to reply when he heard that voice again.
"Hey, mister ...."
Blair's eyes widened and Jim saw mirth appear in them just before he turned around, asking, "Yes?"
The little blonde kid was there. He suddenly lifted a hand holding a toy red pistol. "Bang, bang."
Jim realized a moment too late that the kid had a water pistol and before he could move, he was on the receiving end of several shots of water. The kid's horrified father grabbed for his son's pistol as soon as he could, but not soon enough. "Son! No, don't .... Oh, I'm so sorry, sir."
Jim patted down his shirt, sighing, and waved away the man's apologies. "It's okay. No harm done. Sandburg ...."
Blair, attempting and failing to keep a straight face, nodded, as he watched Jim's jaw clench and unclench a few times, a sure sign he was not pleased with that kid in the least. "Yeah, let's, uh, let's go, Jim, before anything .... else happens."
Once out of earshot, Blair cracked up. "Oh, man, Jim, what did you do to attract that kid's attention? He's, like, everywhere."
Jim grimaced, still wiping at the wetness on his shirt, but already feeling the late morning sun drying it. "I don't know. Must be the company I keep."
Blair just laughed again as they continued on toward the Haunted Mansion.
After the Haunted Mansion, they hit the Jungle Cruise together and Blair went up the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse alone briefly, making Jim wonder about his claim to have a thing about heights. Then Jim stated he was hungry for lunch and they tossed ideas back and forth until they finally came to an agreement on where to eat: The Hungry Bear Restaurant in Critter Country. It had enough of both Jim's and Blair's preferred foods that each could be happy.
The Tiki Room was open after lunch and Jim indulged Blair's interest in that. Plus it was inside and out of the sun which was beginning to really get hot. July in Southern California is not what I'd call pleasant.
Upon exiting that exhibit, Blair bought the whip he'd been looking at earlier, much to Jim's amusement. He still couldn't figure out what Blair wanted it for, but whatever made him happy. Deciding that lunch had settled enough, they headed over to Tomorrowland and went on Star Tours. The line for Space Mountain was entirely too long and they decided to hold off on it a bit and take a brief break instead.
Chugging down the water from the bottle, Blair ran his eyes over the map again. I want to go on that, but how to get Jim .... oh, I know. Plastering an intently serious look on his face, Blair turned to his partner. "Hey, Jim, I've heard about this really great dramatization called 'Great Moments with Abraham Lincoln.' Want to go to that?"
Jim instantly shook his head. "Uh-uh, no way, anything but that, Sandburg."
Blair grinned to himself. Now I've got him. "Anything?"
Hearing the odd tone in his guide's voice, Jim replied slowly, but firmly, "Yeah, anything."
"Okay, let's go on the teacups then."
Jim groaned. I walked into that one, no doubt about it. "Oh .... you've got to be kidding. The teacups?"
Blair lifted an eyebrow. "You did say anything ...."
Jim nodded reluctantly. "Oh, all right, all right. Teacups it is. How do you know about all these rides, anyway? I thought you said you'd never been here."
As they began to walk toward Fantasyland and the teacups, Blair replied, "Jim, I did have friends, you know. They told me all about the cool rides and not-so-cool stuff. And a few of my students at the University have mentioned the newer rides to me from time to time."
Getting more suspicious, Jim eyed his partner. "Just what else do you have planned for today, Chief?"
Blair smiled slyly. "Hmm .... good question, Jim. I'll get back to you with an answer."
Jim smacked the back of Blair's head lightly. "I'll just bet you will."
Blair grabbed the wheel in the middle of the teacup as the ride started. Jim had refused to help him saying he'd agreed to come on this ride and that was quite enough. Obviously, he doesn't think I can get it going very fast by myself. Well, I'll just prove that little theory wrong ....
Truthfully, the wheel was a little hard to get going at first, but he kept at it and Jim didn't say anything, just sat there. I know my physics laws though, once I get it in motion, it'll stay that way and get easier to do.
He kept turning and turning, making the teacup go faster and faster, never even looking up at Jim until he knew the cup was going as fast as it could. Then he risked a glance and saw that Jim's eyes were closed. He looks like he's falling asleep! Geez.
Soon enough, the ride began to slow down. Blair let go of the wheel and sat back to wait, letting his eyes roam around the other cups and their occupants. As the ride came to a full stop, Blair caught sight of that little blonde kid again across the way, also getting out of a teacup.
His lips twitched as he stood and stepped out of the teacup. "Hey, Jim, look, it's your favorite kid."
When there was no response from his partner, Blair turned to see if Jim had heard him. Jim was still sitting in the teacup, unmoving, his eyes closed, jaw muscles clenched tight.
Alarmed, Blair stepped hurriedly back inside the teacup, grabbing Jim's arm and shaking it hard. " Jim! Jim! C'mon, man, breathe ...." Oh, man, is he zoned out or something? Why didn't I see this happening? "Jim!"
Jim's eyes opened slowly and he took a deep breath. "What? Sandburg, what ....?"
A ride attendant came up to them, interrupting Jim, a concerned look on her face. "Is your friend all right? Does he need medical attention?"
Blair looked from Jim to the attendant and back. "No, no, he's fine. Just a little .... dizzy, that's all. C'mon, Jim, let's get out of here so someone else can ride."
Jim pushed himself to his feet, a little unsteady at first and having to lean on Blair, but after a few steps, he was fine and kept going on his own. He walked out of the ride area quickly, Blair following close behind.
They found a nearby bench and Jim sat down somewhat heavily, still feeling a little lightheaded.
Blair asked, "What happened back there, Jim?"
Jim shook his head. "I don't know, Chief. One minute I was fine, the next it felt like all my senses just .... overloaded or something. Everything was moving so fast. I remember closing my eyes to try and tone down on what I was sensing, and then .... nothing."
Blair pondered that statement a moment, then said slowly, "Yes ... yes, of course, the vestibular and auditory systems are both part of the inner ear." He started to gesture with his hands, his voice rising in excitement. "Jim, I bet your semicircular canals are extrasensitive to angular velocities! You must've gotten so dizzy they overloaded! I knew I should have brought my notebook."
Jim could almost hear the wheels turning in Blair's mind and interrupted, holding up both hands. "Whoa, there, Chief, slow down. Why do I get the feeling this will lead to more tests?"
Blair just laughed. "Hey, I'm just trying to figure out how to help you, Jim."
Jim grunted. "Yeah, right. You can't tell me you don't enjoy devising these little tests of yours. I swear, I think you make some of them up just to see how I'll react to even the suggestion of doing them."
Blair laughed again. "Paranoid, aren't you?"
"No, sorry, Chief, you go on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride by yourself. I'll just sit here and drink my soda."
Blair handed him his bag with the whip in it. "Okay, Jim, hold this for me, will ya?"
Jim set the bag next to him and waved him away, "Sure. Go on, Sandburg, you could use the practice."
Laughing softly, Jim relaxed back onto the bench, soda in hand. Blair looked at him a moment longer, then huffed to himself before turning and walking away to join the line for the Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Before turning down his hearing, Jim heard Blair mutter, "I could use the practice. Right. He's the one who got the truck wrecked and crashed Simon's car. Man."
Still smiling slightly, Jim let his eyes wander aimlessly, watching the people passing by him. Mostly parents with kids or groups of teenagers. Several minutes passed and he looked back to the line in front of the ride. He could still see Blair easily from where he was sitting. And he could see that kid again, talking to Blair and looking around. Jim turned up his hearing and cut through everything else around him to focus in on Blair's voice and the kid's.
The kid was saying, "Where's your cop friend?"
Blair replied, a smile on his face, "My cop friend? Oh, he didn't want to come on this ride. He's over there waiting for me to get out." Blair pointed across the way to Jim, who just pretended to ignore them.
Blair knew better. He knew from Jim's posture and tilt of his head that he was listening to them. Smiling a little wickedly, he leaned down to the kid and whispered conspiratorially, "I think he's scared of my driving."
The kid giggled. "It's only a ride."
Blair shrugged and glanced back over at Jim, who was now shaking his head at him, though smiling as well.
Jim turned down his hearing as Blair laughed. Scared of his driving. Guess I deserved that one. Finishing the last of his drink, he got up and stretched. He walked out of Blair's line of sight, knowing that his partner would wait for him to get back if he got out first. There was something he wanted to do while Blair was otherwise occupied.
Jim finally found what he was looking for: a vendor selling hats. He stood there for several moments, watching parents as they picked out various hats for their impatient children. He could only smile and chuckle. He waited his turn, his hearing absently monitoring his surroundings for his partner's voice.
After a bit, he stepped up to the stand and picked up a Mickey Mouse hat. His parents had bought one for him when he came here the very first time. What was a trip to Disneyland without the famous black-eared Mickey Mouse cap? He dug out his wallet to pay for it when another thought struck him. A small, devilish smile crossed his lips as he told the vendor. "I'd like to get a name put on this."
Once his errand was finished, Jim headed back to the ride. The line had been fairly short and the ride itself wasn't very long. He didn't want to miss Blair, just in case he decided to wander off. On the way back he passed a few park personnel talking quietly together and what one of them said caught his ear.
"Got word that our man Penner's been seen up at Toontown. Security up there couldn't get him though. But they said he might be on his way down here. So keep an eye out."
Jim stopped several feet away from the security personnel, as that was who they must have been. He glanced back at them, frowning for a moment, before turning to keep going toward the ride where Blair would be waiting for him. Trouble, I wonder? Can't be that bad. I don't see any local cops in here. I can't imagine what would happen if they tried to evacuate this place. Mass panic. Shuddering at the image his mind presented him with, he shook his head. Not my problem. I'll let them handle it. I'm on vacation. He pushed aside his brief thoughts of concern and continued on toward the ride exit.
A few moments after Jim arrived, Blair came out, flushed and laughing. "Oh, Jim, that was a blast."
Jim smiled, laughing himself as he handed Blair's whip purchase back to him. "Yeah, I remember that being one of my more favorite rides too. Got you something else, Chief." He pulled his hand out from behind his back and slapped the cap on Blair's head before Blair could stop him.
Blair reached up and felt the ears. "One of those Mickey Mouse hats! How'd you know I wanted one?"
Jim shrugged, trying to suppress his smile. "Figured you'd want the whole experience."
Blair's searching fingers encountered the thread on the back. "Hey, something's stitched on here. My name?" Without waiting for a reply, he pulled off the hat to look at the back. A second later he burst into laughter. "Chief? You had them stencil 'Chief' on this thing? What did they say to that?"
Jim broke into one of his rare wide smiles. "Thought I was nuts." Then playfully slapping at Blair's cheek. "But it's your name, isn't it .... Chief?"
Blair just shook his head and put the hat back on. "Whatever, Jim. Ready for another ride?"
Jim lifted an eyebrow. "Where are we going now?"
Blair replied, smirking a bit, "Splash Mountain."
"Haven't I already been wet today?"
As they stood in line for Splash Mountain, Blair rattled on about more ancient cultures. Jim listened as he looked around at the people, making comments every now and then in response to something his partner said. Blair knew that Jim, being a cop, could not just stand somewhere without scanning his surroundings, looking for possible threats. Being a Sentinel only intensified that tendency.
Blair's monologue came to a halt as Jim locked onto something behind him. He turned and saw a couple of park personnel talking, one holding a walkie-talkie, the other a small clipboard with something attached to it. He looked back up at Jim -- he was still watching and still listening. Blair would just have to wait to see what was happening.
Jim had just caught sight of the security personnel when his hearing had picked up the abrasive static of handheld talkies. When he focused in, he heard a voice coming from the talkie in the midst of a sentence.
".... and took out Baxter with some toy he grabbed off a stand. Nathaniel said he heard him muttering about finding the perfect kid for Mickey."
The guy with the clipboard looked up at the man holding the talkie, asking, "Should we put out an alert?"
Obviously the one in charge, he replied incredulously, "Do you know what would happen in here if we announced to the public en masse that there was some half-crazed, potential kidnapper roaming loose in the park?"
"Yeah -- a nightmare. Well, what do we do then?"
"For now, keep an eye out and try not to look worried. No use in drawing attention. Penner's picture has been distributed to all park personnel, not just security, so if he's spotted, be ready to move fast."
As the man with the clipboard began to turn away, Jim saw a picture attached to the board. He focused in quickly and found that it was a color copy of a park ID of one Douglas Penner, a man of about his age with dark blonde hair and light brown eyes, and a small scar on his forehead above his left eye. Before the security guard disappeared out of sight around a corner, Jim read the word "maintenance" under the picture.
Blair waited for Jim to settle his senses back to normal, then asked quietly, "What's up, Jim? Something's going on, isn't it?"
Jim tilted his head down slightly, and keeping his voice just loud enough for his partner to hear, he explained the situation. For the first time since they'd arrived that morning, Jim was glad of the noise in the park. It covered his voice enough that those around him couldn't hear what he was saying, but Blair still could understand him.
After he'd finished, Blair asked, "Well, what are we going to do?"
Jim shook his head. "For the moment, nothing. Just stay alert. The security here may be able to handle it. I don't want to intrude in their area if I can help it."
After Splash Mountain, they headed back to Space Mountain. The line was shorter so they decided to go on it. Jim nearly zoned out halfway through on the strobe lights, but Blair noticed this time and pulled him out of it before anyone else saw.
They decided that there was time for one more ride before they stopped to eat again. Blair wanted to go on the Indiana Jones ride again .... or there was always Abe Lincoln .... Jim had quickly agreed to Indiana Jones and pushed Blair in that direction.
As they stood in line, Jim scanned people again, this time looking for Penner. His eyes caught sight of that blonde kid near the front of the line with his parents, all just entering the building. At the same time, he heard Blair's muttered comment.
"Just what does that guy think he's doing?"
Jim looked down at Blair, then followed his line of sight to see a man climbing through foliage to get into the main ride area. He had gathered the attention of most of the nearby park-goers. The man turned his face toward Jim momentarily and Jim swore.
Blair interpreted that quickly. "Penner?"
Jim nodded, muscles tensing in anticipation of action. "Yeah." He looked around quickly but didn't see anyone he would call security personnel in the area. He grabbed Blair's arm. "Come on, security hasn't been notified and by time they are, it will be too late. Get in the lower area down there, on the other side of the bushes. I'll try to stop him from up here." Blair yanked off his hat and shoved it in his bag, not wanting it to get knocked off or lost in the inevitable chase as he nodded and took off.
Jim watched a moment to make sure Blair was headed in the right direction, then ducked out of line and wove around the hordes of people surrounding the ride. Growling in frustration, he clenched his jaw as he moved to avoid being stampeded by a group of Japanese tourists and a few couples with baby carriages. Why is it that everyone in the park is suddenly here? He couldn't just announce that he was a cop. That would most likely frighten the park-goers and reveal his presence to Penner before he was ready. He hoped Blair was having better luck.
Blair pushed his way through people, apologizing profusely the whole way, to get inside the ride area to slow Penner down if Jim couldn't stop him from the outside. Finally he found where he thought was the right spot to be. He couldn't see much through the trees and mesh fence, but he could hear Penner thrashing his way through the brush.
Penner came crashing through the trees and fell into Blair, knocking him to the ground with a hard thud, his bag flying off to one side. Blair gasped, pulling air back into suddenly deflated lungs. He caught only a fleeting glimpse of Penner's wild eyes before Penner jumped up and was gone, heading toward the entrance of the building that lead to the ride.
Jim came through the trees a few moments later. "Blair! Are you all right?" He levered Blair up, steadying him with a hand on each of his shoulders.
His breathing evening out, Blair motioned him toward the building. "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. Go on, he went inside I think."
Assured that Blair was okay, Jim nodded and took off. Blair looked around and smiled a little nervously at the people watching him. "Uh, hi, folks. Line cutter. Trying to catch him." Grabbing his dropped bag, Blair ran toward the building entrance. Inside he found Jim arguing impatiently with the female ride attendant. Blair's eyes slid past Jim and he recognized the parents of the blonde kid standing slightly off to the side. They both looked very upset. He didn't see the kid anywhere however.
His attention was drawn back as Jim interrupted the woman. "Look, it's gonna take a little time for park security to get here. I'm here now, I'm a cop. Penner's got that kid -- who knows what he'll do with him. I only want to help."
Blair blinked, eyes going back to the parents. Penner took the blonde kid? He was the perfect kid for Mickey?
The woman finally nodded in agreement. "All right."
Jim looked down at the electronic display panel, which showed the entire lay-out of the ride and where all the cars were. As he located the various emergency exits and the paths to get to them, he went on. "Okay, I'm gonna need you to stop the ride when you can. I need to be able to get around without worrying about getting hit by a car. You must have an announcement system in there. Tell those inside that there's a minor mechanical glitch, anything to keep them from panicking and keep them in their seats." He turned to Blair. "Chief, if you're ready ...."
Blair nodded. "Let's go, Jim." He handed his bag to the guard. "I'll pick this up when I get back. Thanks."
Jim turned and they headed toward the main ride entrance. Jim stopped by the parents and touched the weeping mother's arm. "I'll find your son, ma'am, I promise." He met the eyes of the father and nodded again. "He'll be okay."
Jim continued toward the entrance and Blair paused only briefly to add his own comment. "He's the best there is, believe me." Then he hurried on to catch up to Jim. It was fairly dark inside the ride itself and he'd need to stay close to Jim or otherwise Jim would have to find him as well.
A minute or so after entering, Blair could hear the motors running the ride come to a slow stop. Then an announcement about a minor mechanical problem came over the speakers, asking for everyone to please remain seated and that it would be fixed shortly.
Jim came to a standstill, turning up his hearing. He filtered out all remaining mechanical noises, then discarded any voices that appeared in groups. Then he heard that voice, the one he knew so well already. The kid was crying and sounded scared, but he was okay. He relayed this to Blair who breathed a short sigh of relief before asking, "Which way?"
Jim waited a moment, locating where Penner was and where he was headed, then pointed. "This way. C'mon."
Blair followed Jim down one passageway. They passed a carload of people, one of which grabbed Blair's arm as he went by, demanding in an aggravated voice. "Hey, how long is this gonna take?"
Blair glanced ahead at Jim who had paused at a junction, then back at the teenage guy who was holding his arm. Carefully pulling away, he smiled politely. "We're working on it right now."
"Sandburg, are you coming?"
"Yeah, I'm coming, Jim, hold on." He gave another quick smile, then dashed off after Jim as he headed down the left turn at the junction.
Jim grabbed Blair's arm and pulled him to a stop, motioning for quiet, then pointed somewhere in front of them, whispering, "Down there. In one of the maintenance rooms. I can hear the boy." Blair nodded even though he couldn't hear a thing. Jim continued walking, Blair right behind him.
As they turned a corner, Blair could suddenly hear the scared voice of the little boy, wanting to be let go, wanting to go back to his parents. Blair touched Jim's arm and whispered so low that he could barely hear himself, "Does he have a gun, do you know?" Jim shook his head and shrugged, which Blair took to mean 'no, but he wasn't sure.'
Jim pulled Blair's head down so that Blair's ear was close to his mouth. "I'm going around to cut the other exit off. Count to 20, then do something to distract to him."
Blair barely had time to squeak out, "What?" before Jim vanished into the darkness. Distract him. Is this in the same category making noise in the elevator? After a moment, he began to count under his breath, knowing Jim could hear him. "One-Mississippi, Two-Mississippi, Three-Mississippi ...." On 20, he took a deep breath, muttering, "One distraction coming up," then stepped around the corner into the maintenance room.
Penner looked up quickly and stiffened menacingly as Blair came into the small room. The little boy was tied with some twine to a chair against the wall to Blair's right, sniffling, remnants of tears on his cheeks, but unharmed. Blair smiled at him in what he hoped was reassurance. Penner took a step toward him, sliding between him and the boy.
"What do you want? Why are you here? How did you find me?"
Blair replied, wondering where Jim was, "I came to talk with you, man. I wanted to make sure you got the right kid."
Penner blinked, thrown off guard, but still suspicious. "The right kid? Yeah, I got him. Been watching him all day. I know he's the one."
Blair walked casually the opposite direction, drawing Penner's attention away from the boy and away from the other exit through which he assumed Jim would be coming. He nodded as if in understanding and curiosity. "Uh-huh. And just what makes him the right one?" C'mon, Jim, where are you?
As he turned to walk back to Penner, Blair edged a little closer, hoping to get near the kid, who was pretty much quiet, only whimpering now and again. Penner seemed to relax a little in the face of Blair's apparent goodwill. Turning partially away from Blair, Penner stepped over to the kid and reached out a hand to delicately touch his hair. The boy jerked away, frightened. "Leave me alone. I wanna go back to my mommie. Let me go!"
Penner just stared at him. "I saw his face in a dream. Mickey told me to get him."
Blair blinked. Oh, man, this guy is a total loony. Jim .... Deciding not to wait any longer, he stepped forward. Penner heard him move and spun around, reaching into his windbreaker and pulling out what Blair recognized as a gun-shaped object. Raising his hands instinctively, he backed off a few steps. "Okay, man, it's okay. Just put the gun down." Blair looked closer at the gun and had to bite his tongue to keep quiet -- it was the kid's water pistol!
Just then, Jim appeared at the other entrance to the room. "Drop it, Penner!"
Before Blair had a chance to tell Jim it wasn't a real gun, Penner whirled around and fired the water pistol at Jim, who flinched in reaction before realizing it was only water. He rushed Penner and tackled him to the ground. Penner fought back and the two of them began to roll over on the ground.
As they neared him, Blair, who was trying to get to the kid, stumbled back out of their way and managed to trip over some tool laying on the floor. He fell, joining the tangle of limbs, startling Penner, which gave Jim the opportunity to land a solid punch and knock him out.
Jim pushed himself back to his feet, then reached down a hand to help Blair up as well. "When I said a distraction, I didn't mean for you to come in here, you know."
Blair shrugged, straightening his shirt. "First thing that came to mind. It worked, didn't it?"
Jim nodded silently, and walked over to the little boy, quickly undoing the knot in the twine holding him in the chair. Tossing the twine aside, he said softly, "It's all over now. The bad man won't hurt you. We're going to take you back to your parents now, okay?" The little boy sniffled once more, then threw himself at Jim, who grunted with the impact, but lifted him up his arms, patting the boy's back in comfort. "Sh, sh, there now, it's gonna be okay. Blair ...."
He turned around and found Blair tying Penner's hands and feet with the twine. "Got it covered, Jim. He's not going anywhere anytime soon."
Jim got a better grip on the little boy as Blair finished up. "Good job, Chief. Let's get out of here."
As they exited the room, the little boy whispered tearfully against Jim's shoulder. "Thank you for saving me, Mr. Policeman. I'm really sorry for sticking my tongue out at you and shooting you."
Jim smiled to himself and rubbed the boy's back. "It's okay. It's all okay."
Several minutes later, Jim and Blair came out into the main building, passing security personnel. Jim paused a moment to tell them which room Penner was in, then continued on. The woman in charge of the ride pointed them to a small storage room set off to the side the ride entrance, then handed Blair his bag.
Jim pushed open the door and stepped inside. The parents, seated on some boxes, both look up. Upon seeing their son, they both rose and rushed at Jim. The little boy turned in his arms. "Mommie! Daddy!"
Jim gave the little boy over to his happy and relieved parents, smiling himself at the reunion. Blair stepped in behind him, whispering, "A happy ending."
The mother petted back her son's hair. "Oh, Blair, I'm so glad you're safe."
Surprised, Blair blurted out, "Blair? His name is Blair?" Jim glanced back at Blair briefly, an eyebrow raised, but didn't say anything.
The father nodded absently. "Yes, it is." He reached out and took Jim's hand, shaking it. "Thank you very much, sir, for getting our son back for us."
Jim inclined his head. "My pleasure." He backed out of the room, pushing Blair out behind him.
Outside the ride and away from the lines of people, Jim stretched. "You know, Chief, I'm hungry. Let's find some place to eat."
Blair nodded. "Okay, Jim, fine by me."
They began to walk toward Main Street, heading toward some of the nicer restaurants. Jim suddenly broke into a sideways grin. "The kid's name was Blair. What is it about that name and needing a 'Blessed Protector'?"
Blair retorted, "Don't even start with that, Jim."
Jim's laughter echoed down the street, Blair's joining it a few moments later.
- The End -